In 1933 President Roosevelt announced America’s ‘New Deal’ to help the country recover from the Great Depression and now in 2020 Boris Johnson is set to have his own for post-COVID.
The Prime Minister will today, Tuesday June, announce a ‘New Deal’ which puts jobs and infrastructure at the centre of the government’s economic growth strategy.
In a speech in the West Midlands, the Prime Minister will underline his commitment to ‘build, build, build’ in order to ‘level up’ Britain’s infrastructure and skills to fuel economic recovery across the UK.
The Prime Minister is expected to say: “It sounds positively Rooseveltian. It sounds like a New Deal. All I can say is that if so, then that is how it is meant to sound and to be, because that is what the times demand.
“A government that is powerful and determined and that puts its arms around people at a time of crisis, this is a government that is wholly committed not just to defeating coronavirus but to using this crisis finally to tackle this country’s great unresolved challenges of the last three decades.
“To build the homes, to fix the NHS, to tackle the skills crisis, to mend the indefensible gap in opportunity and productivity and connectivity between the regions of the UK. To unite and level up.
“To that end we will build build build. Build back better, build back greener, build back faster and to do that at the pace that this moment requires.”
The Prime Minister will announce that the government will bring forward £5bn of capital investment projects, supporting jobs and the economic recovery, including:
• £1.5bn this year for hospital maintenance, eradicating mental health dormitories, enabling hospital building, and improving A&E capacity. This will improve patient care, make sure NHS hospitals can deliver world-leading services and reduce the risk of coronavirus infections.
• £100m this year for 29 projects in our road network to get Britain moving, from bridge repairs in Sandwell to boosting the quality of the A15 in the Humber region. Plus £10m for development work to unblock the Manchester rail bottleneck, which will begin this year.
• Over £1bn to fund the first 50 projects of a new, ten-year school rebuilding programme, starting from 2020-21. These projects will be confirmed in the Autumn, and construction on the first sites will begin from September 2021.
• £560m and £200m for repairs and upgrades to schools and FE colleges respectively this year.
• £142m for digital upgrades and maintenance to around 100 courts this year, £83m for maintenance of prisons and youth offender facilities, and £60m for temporary prison places, creating thousands of new jobs.
• £900m for a range of ‘shovel ready’ local growth projects in England over the course of this year and next, as well as £96m to accelerate investment in town centres and high streets through the Towns Fund this year. This will provide all 101 towns selected for town deals with £500k-£1m to spend on projects such as improvements to parks, high streets, and transport.
The Prime Minister will talk about an ‘infrastructure revolution’ – building infrastructure, building jobs and building healthcare through a programme of national renewal, uniting and levelling up the UK.
He is expected to say: “Too many parts of this country have felt left behind, neglected, unloved, as though someone had taken a strategic decision that their fate did not matter as much as the metropolis.
“And so I want you to know that this government not only has a vision to change this country for the better, we have a mission to unite and level up – the mission on which we were elected last year.”
Spring Budget 2020 set out ambitious plans to invest in the country’s future prosperity.
Today’s announcement seems to redouble the government’s intended efforts to get on with this now, in support of economic recovery and jobs right across the country.
To support the ambition to ‘build build build’, in the Autumn the government will also publish a National Infrastructure Strategy which will set a clear direction on core economic infrastructure, including energy networks, road and rail, flood defences and waste.
The Government also intends to bring forward funding to accelerate infrastructure projects in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The aim is to work with the devolved administrations to identify where we can get spades in the ground, build our communities, and create jobs faster for citizens across the United Kingdom.
They will then carry out a review to look at how best to improve road, rail, air and sea links between our four nations to create a more connected kingdom.
To protect the UK’s natural infrastructure, the Prime Minister will recommit to reforest Britain by planting over 75,000 acres of trees every year by 2025.
He is also set to pledge £40m to boost local conservation projects and create 3000 jobs, including new Conservation Rangers, and safeguard a further 2000 – training young people and others in the community to protect their local environments.
The hope for this plan is to go a long way to safeguard the UK’s natural carbon stores and wildlife habitats – our meadows, rivers, and local green spaces – which are central to capturing and removing CO2 from the atmosphere, protecting precious biodiversity, and connecting people with nature.
Recognising the crisis has driven job josses across the country, and many people are worried about their jobs and incomes, the Prime Minister will announce action to support jobs and skills in his speech.
While in the long-term the government must set a path to balance the books, the Prime Minister is clear that they will not do so at the expense of investing now in the productive potential of the economy, or at the expense of the resilience of the UK’s public services.
The Prime Minister will finish by saying: “If we deliver this plan together, then we will together build our way back to health.
“We will not just bounce back, we will bounce forward – stronger and better and more united than ever before.”
The Chancellor will provide an update on the economy next week.